Note: usually, every Monday I post a piece about self-improving, but the other night I had a dream I could not let go off and this short story came out from it so naturally that I had to write it down and share it.
“Look away, look away! Look, away, look away…”
She kept saying to herself.
“Is it all true or just a game? Look away, look away…”
The summer was gone when, in the stormy morning, her car needed a refill of petrol and she had stopped at what seemed to be a gas station with a bizarre logo. She had just exited her car when someone had hit her on the back of the head and she had lost her senses. When she had opened her eyes, she was half naked in a cell, humid and cold, together with a dozen scared people. Some of them showed bandages on various parts of their bodies, some new and neat, some old and smeared with blood. The fourth wall of the cell, the one on the corridor, was made of bars and through that wall, she could see a cell just like the one she was held captive, with other people half naked, scared, dirty and hurt, just like her and her companions.
Murmuring and sobbing in the cells interviewed with distant screams for help, inarticulate shouts, metal clanging and machine working. Disgusting men – more dressed and in better shape that the prisoners – went in and out from the cells, bringing in and dragging out helpless people. She could not understand if that infernal place was a true maniacs’ lair or one of those crazy gaming houses, which had started popping out in the role-playing underground scene, foolish places where people went to acting out scenarios from the worst horror movies. Recently some people, both in and out from the live role-playing scene, had disappeared. At one point, when she had already forgotten how much time had passed, how many people had come and gone, and from how many hours she had eaten, a commanding man spoke to her.
He had come in and toyed with some other prisoner before moving his eyes to the girl who was committed to not look at him. She did not know, but all the eyes had turned to her and still she was trying to not look, to pretend not to be there. The man who had spoken to her was better dressed than the other jailers and behaved like if he was their boss.
“Look at me, I said.”
In a corner of her eye, she saw that he was reaching for the side of her face. She turned to him to prevent his gesture. The man caressed her cheek anyway and took her left wrist in his hand. He had a soft touch and soft hands.
He smiled. He had a warm smile and she smiled back at him, automatically. She caught another woman looking at her with plain disgust. The man turned her face at him again.
“Look at me, only at me.”
He was clean. He smelt good. No blood on his blue shirt, no pain or dirty pleasure on his freshly shaved face.
“Look into my eye.”
She did it. They looked at each other for a minute and she trembled in his grip for all the time.
“I love you.”
Said the man and called one of his minions with the tip of a finger. The short, black-haired man came closer and took her wrists from his boss. She moved away from him and tried to free herself, as the little man was tieing her wrists with a dirty rope.
Said the clean man softly and the three of them moved out from the cell. The man who said to love her walked backwards ahead of the trio, a finger under her chin.
“Look at me. Look only at me.”
They reached a door and climbed a stair. That floor was completely different from the dungeon downstairs. The walls had a rich cream wallpaper with a motive of pomegranates. The flooring was made of black and white tiles and they were having a party. People went up and down the corridor and the rooms chatting, drinking and having a good time.
Suddenly, another commanding man arrived and called away the one with the blue shirt, who gestured the minion to free her hands and escort her to another room. Left alone in a luxury suite, she cleaned herself in the enclosed bathroom and wore a long cream lace dress she found hanged in a huge wardrobe. All dressed up she tried for the door and, surprisingly, she found it was unlocked.
She exited the suite and wandered around. And when someone engaged her in a conversation, she politely tried to escape it as soon as possible. An elegant older woman told her about the imminent formal dinner, she nodded twice and ran away from her with a big smile. While she was running away from the elegant woman she saw her purse on a marble table close to a silk sofa. On the sofa, seated giving his shoulders to her, there was a man in a blue shirt. She did not know what to do. She wanted to enter the salon from that door and take her purse without being seen, but the fear to be discovered and anger that man was bigger. So she left and entered the salon from the other door, facing him.
Said the man, raising up. She smiled at him with a trembling chin and moved towards the marble table.
“Did you have something?”
She shook her head. He looked displeased.
“Not a bite or a sip?”
She shook her head again and grabbed her purse with her hands hidden behind her back.
“Never mind, the dinner is going to start. – The man offered his arm to her – Shall we?”
She took his arm – the metal chain of her purse wrapped around her other wrist – and walked with him out from the salon into the corridor full of elegant people. But as they walked he did not look ahead, only at her, and their askew course took them against the wall. As soon as she felt the wall slam her back, the man blocked her way out. She turned her eyes down and saw a thin golden chain appear from his open collar.
“I am going to kiss you…”
She looked at the man and saw that he was keeping to fingers high in front of him, the classic out-of-game gesture of the live role-playing games.
“… may I do it for real?”
She felt her undies getting wet. She could not understand the reason.
He nodded and passionately kissed the air. Then his fingers raised up again.
“Do you… how do you respond? You slap my face or what?”
She closed her eyes and kissed the air back. Then the man whispered in her ear.
“How do I know that you are sincere?”
She looked at him intensely, then she grasped his hand and placed it on her breast, where her heart was pounding on her bones like a frightened bird in a cage.
“Let’s go somewhere…”
He moved away from the wall and escorted her to the suite. In a moment, she was lying on the bed, the man knelt between her legs. He mimed the gestures to open his shirt and trousers. Before placing her on the bed, he had mimed the gesture to remove her undies but they were still there, between her spread legs, pink and wet. He bent over her, talking to her ear.
“Shall we do it for real?”
He nodded, took a deep breath and produced a dildo out of nowhere. He placed it between her legs, close to her groin and asked.
“Does it find any resistance?
Answered her with a half smile. Then he went down on her and they mimed an intercourse. Between them a palm of thin air and a little gold key, hanging from his gold chain. She was pretending so well to be aroused that her undies wetted further and he asked again. But she said no again, and when he kissed her on the neck she pushed him away.
“I am going to keep something with me forever. Choose what you intend to give me.”
Said he when they had finished their pantomime. She was about to ask “or else?” but he had not raised his fingers and wasn’t really asking. On the contrary, he had started to undress her. She stopped him and gave him her ring. He opened his gold chain and added her ring, which fell on the top of his gold key like a crown on a king.
He smiled. She smiled.
“Do you like to keep the dress?”
“No, thank you.”
Said her. He smiled again, turned her to face her shoulder and pulled down the straps of her lace dress, under which her bust was bare.
“But you have to. Now you have to accept something from me.”
She raised up her fingers and he pulled her hand down again.
“It’s the rule. If you want to go you have to take one thing from me and leave everything else here.”
She swallowed the air.
Out of nowhere a glass full of a liquid that resembled pomegranate juice appeared in front of her.
“Here, drink this.”
She pushed away his hand. He kissed her bare shoulder and spoke to her ear.
“No? Maybe I can give you something else that is red and juicy…”
She drank from the glass.
“Good girl. Now you sleep.”
Her eyelids became heavy and she fell asleep. When she woke up again she was in her car, parked close to one of the gas pump. She was wearing her clothes again and someone had already inserted money in the machine. She filled her tank and left as soon as possible.
When the gas station with the strange logo was long gone from her rear mirror, she started to convince herself that she had fallen asleep right after parking and that everything was a dream. But the taste of pomegranate on her tongue was undeniable, together with an increasing feeling of longing.